True contentment lies not in liking our circumstances but rather in accepting the life God has given us, trusting that He is good and sovereign and that all seasons of life work for our good. However, this is easier said than done, especially when our life looks nothing like we expected. It is difficult when life is painful and hard. It’s excruciating when we feel like God is silent, distant, and uncaring about our situation. We start believing the enemy’s lies that we are alone, that God isn’t for us, and that things will not get better. We begin losing hope. That is when despair creeps in, depression and loneliness too.
I look at the negative all around me instead of the positive. I see my oldest one pinning down his younger brother for going into his room without knocking. I hear my youngest pulling a fit because he didn’t get his way. I feel like banging my head on the wall because a certain child still forgets some of her sight words when she’s reading. I listen to the enemy’s lies that I’m not good enough. I feel like a failure. Maybe you have too. I tell God that he overestimated my abilities to parent my children and to do this life he handed me.
How do we change this? By looking to the cross. Jesus displays the best, most submissive example of acceptance. The night before he was crucified, he begged God, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39b) Jesus asked God to change his circumstances, but he trusted God, no matter the outcome. Friends, that is what we must do. We pray and ask God to relieve our pain and to make life better, but we trust Him even if he doesn’t.
This brings to my mind the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They acknowledged that God could save them from the fiery furnace, but they diligently trusted God even if He didn’t. (Daniel 3) What would this look like for us? It means trusting God even when we don’t know how our story ends. It means choosing to find the joy in today rather than hoping you will find it in the future. We resolve to praise God for the things that are going right in our life rather than dwelling on what is not. Do not listen to the voices of criticism in your head or from others. Listen to the words and promises God declares over you.
He will exult over you with loud singing. (Zephaniah 3:17)
He chose you before the foundation of the world. (Ephesians 1:4)
He has a plan for you. (Jeremiah 29:11)
He will not leave you or forsake you. (Deuteronomy 31:6)
You are precious in his eyes, and honored, and He loves you. (Isaiah 43:4)
When life is hard and not what we wanted, we must choose daily (and sometimes minute by minute) to not give in to the voice of the evil one but rather preach truth to our heart from the heart of God as displayed in his living and active Word.
I have a little wooden sign in my living room that says, “God is faithful in every season.” He is good in all seasons of life, not just the good ones. We trust that He is doing something in our lives, even in the winters, and we know that no suffering is without purpose in the plan of God.